Police face a litany of dangerous situations regularly.
Often drunk or souped-up on drugs, suspects can be uninhibited as officers try to arrest them. Suspects might punch, kick or bite. Or they might be armed with a knife or a gun.
Officers have to react, to defend themselves, and to make the suspect submit to arrest.
But they also have to maintain their cool and not let their emotions dictate their actions. In the heat of an angry moment, they might go beyond self-defense and use excessive force to exact revenge on an unruly suspect.
Even the best men and women among police can be temporarily blinded by anger. Some can, in an instant, forget that the suspect has rights, too, and can take use of physical force too far.
Madison Circuit Court 2 will conduct a trial, set to begin Oct. 21, to rule on a local claim of police brutality.
The plaintiff is Roger Chandler, 31, who was arrested by Anderson police on May 31, 2010. Chandler later pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic offender and driving while intoxicated.
After the criminal case was closed, Chandler filed a tort claim against two arresting officers, Ryan Greer and Brian Porter, maintaining that they violated his 14th Amendment rights by using excessive force in arresting him.
Reportedly, Greer broke Chandler’s jaw after Chandler elbowed him in the nose.
What really happened? Did Greer and Porter use excessive force?
That’s for a jury to decide, thanks to the decision last week by Judge George Pancol to deny the City of Anderson’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case.
Pancol’s decision indicates his belief that Chandler’s claim might have merit. Letting a jury decide, in that case, is the best path. That way, all of the facts come to light and it’s not left solely to the judgment of the bench.
In this case, and in other claims of police brutality, justice should run its course to keep the balance between the rights of police officers to use reasonable force, and suspects’ rights to be protected from excessive force.
In summary Police officers must protect themselves and do their jobs, but claims of police brutality shouldn't be taken lightly.